To meet the world’s growing demand for batteries, private companies have turned their attention to mining the ocean floor. But could this practice come at a greater cost to the planet than it’s worth?
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Terrestrial mining doesn’t have a perfect record, it comes with a long list of environmental and human rights abuses, including pollution and child labor. All this to dig up raw materials like nickel, manganese, and cobalt that are necessary for our lithium-ion batteries.
Some strategies for a carbon-free future depend on making these batteries in much larger numbers and using them as a power source for electric cars or a storage method for electricity generated by renewables.
But another source of these materials could lie at the bottom of the ocean. Potato-sized lumps called polymetallic nodules are rich in manganese, copper, cobalt, nickel, and other precious metals; and they are found in abundance in some areas like the Clarion-Clipperton Zone that stretches from Hawaii to Mexico.
#deepseamining #environnment #science #seeker #elements
History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin
"Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight."
Treasure and Turmoil in the Deep Sea
"As a result of the mining, animals already living near their physiological limits would be eating mouthfuls of poisonous dirt for breakfast, respiring through clogged gills and squinting through a muddy haze to communicate."
Seabed mining is coming — bringing mineral riches and fears of epic extinctions
"The sea floor there boasts one of the world’s largest untapped collections of rare-earth elements. Some 4,000 metres below the ocean surface, the abyssal ooze of the CCZ holds trillions of polymetallic nodules — potato-sized deposits loaded with copper, nickel, manganese and other precious ores."
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